Last week, the US contingent of my team met up together for a retreat.
It wasn’t the right time for me or my family for me to head stateside just yet, so my new Chief Operations Officer Grant led it instead in Durango, Colorado.
I felt 100% certain of Grant’s ability, smart + heart to pull it off (as I mentioned in my interview post with him, he’s the former CEO of a nonprofit, has managed 200+ people at citigroup + owned his own company before I headhunted him).
We’ll be sharing more about the retreat, how it worked, how it was planned + what happened soon.
But for now, Grant brewed up this piece of magnificence.
I loved it so much I made it into a poster.
BUSINESSES ARE BUILT FROM HEARTS: A MANIFESTO
The number of Leonie Dawson International staff in Durango is back down to one (unless you count that awkward head-of-Leonie-on-a-paint-stirrer in my living room.) Instead of spending my days in a beautiful, cozy guesthouse, I’m back to the small office, grinding out the work. Instead of asking if someone is in the room, we’re back to looking for the little light by a name, indicating that a person is on the other end of a Slack* channel and is likely to respond to a message. The retreat is retreating and we’re back to normal life, remote work, and an expanding to-do list that demands some attention.
So what have we learned?
Relationships are real.
Businesses are built from hearts.
From the first moment that I picked Erin, Joyce, and Amber up from the airport, our conversation and ways of relating were just extensions of our daily work-life. People are people, even on the Internet.
Showing up with respect, working hard and delivering for each other, allowing your humor and your personality into the equation, these are all good parts of working together, whether you share a cubicle or a Hangout.
(A brief people aside – some things you just can’t put back in the bag. We have talked about my inner-femininity. THAT ship has sailed.)
Be the change…
If you are trying to build a magical world and really give your best to the world, don’t imagine you can skip the step of being honorable to the people supporting your efforts and still truly succeed. In fact, start there. Give the love you want to give to the world, to your team. Grow them, encourage them, support them. You’ll get it back, promise.
This is not to say don’t get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off.* But there are ways to work that respect the dignity, the Divine spark, and the contribution of everyone without endangering your mission. Basic decency has to be a starting point for any venture that hopes to traffic in authenticity.
You can’t buy passion.
You can pay people to take orders, but to get people engaged enough to take on the group (even the leader… what ARE they thinking?) to make things better, that takes buy-in. That takes personal alignment with the cause. That takes a willingness to stick up for what you really believe is best.
(Or alternatively, it may just be a sign of someone with a high-D profile (aka a Dominant profile from DiSC assessment) who is determined to win – our whole team are high Ds – dominant, opinionated, determined to do well + create big results #surprisednotsurprised!!)
Passion creates a wonderful reality to inhabit.
To hear each person in turn dig in and make a case for better support, better experiences, and adding even more value to this community, to the blog, to the Academy, to the workbooks, that’s pretty cool.
It means we are all willing to advocate to see things done well, we’re all willing to fight for excellence. We are passionately at your service.
I think the answer to all of business is to care more.
Care about your customers. Care passionately about their problems, what they are experiencing, how you can help them, how you can make it better.
Care about yourself. Care for yourself enough to have balance, to have a life, to not forget to have a good life as well as a good business.
Care about the world. Care about how your business impacts it. Care about the work it does to make it better.
Care about the hearts that make up your business. Without them, there is no business.
I believe the risk of the virtual world is we forget our humanity.
Don’t. You have to work hard to make things real, but the result is worth it.
Hearts build your business. Don’t forget to build up those hearts.
Get together with your people in the same room.
Yes, it costs money. It costs airplane tickets and time.
But it gives back tenfold.
It does what the internet can’t do, and it lets hearts see hearts.
Great magic is created there.
Mail things – nothing says I appreciate you these days like a real letter or package.
Handwrite that card.
Linger a little longer.
Really speak the words that reside in your heart.
The gratitude you feel for your team. The ways they make your heart light up. What they do and are that delights you.
We need to tell people more. There is a great deficit of heartfelt words in business, and in life.
Don’t add to the Great Heartfelt Deficit.
Stay on calls a little longer, let the agenda wander, make room for the water cooler.
Don’t be so focussed on productivity, efficiency, agendas, that you forget the humans that make all of it matter.
Spend time filling up each other’s cups: with stories, with laughter, with endless webcams of your pets and children.
Build a team that are friends, that are family, that are fiercely devoted advocates to the cause.
CEOs shouldn’t just invest in their own growth + support. They should invest in their people too.
One of the things that made me say a big whole-hearted YES to working at LDI*, was how much Leonie + the company walks its talk when it comes to investing in people.
Some of the things we already do:
- Having a comprehensive education + training library for employees to use.
- Sending staff to conferences (+ team retreats).
- Giving them Amazon cards to buy as many work-related and personal development books as they like.
- Having a company Audible account for audio books.
- Making donations to charities elected by each employee.
- Paying good wages.
- Asking our team what they most want to be doing + learning, and helping that to happen.
Some of the things we will be doing:
- Introducing a Employee Thrival Fund to pay for monthly massages + therapy/kinesiology for each team member.
- Taking the whole team on a trip to see the libraries we will be building with Room To Read (likely Vietnam).
In short, letting self care + abundance + education + philanthropy – the very principles Leonie teaches – saturate every part of the company’s heart.
Ask the difficult questions.
Answer the difficult question.
Remember people have bad days, even online.
Give them compassion.
Give them grace.
The good ones, the devoted ones, will do the same for you when it’s your day.
Creating abundance and possibility at a small scale is a preparation for a larger harvest.
Don’t skip the beginning.
Businesses are built from hearts. Tend to them.
Don’t be so mission-focused that you forget the people making it happen.
You can’t do this alone. Love on the ones who showed up to help. It is the first step on this journey of so many miles.
I hope I see you somewhere along the way.
Footnotes from Leonie:
- Slack is the instant messaging channel we use for our team around the globe to connect with each other.
- “Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus” I is a brilliant concept from Jim Collins in the great business bible “Good To Great“. Simply speaking, it means you have to make sure your team is only filled with talented people with the right attitude, and fire anyone else. I highly recommend every business owner should read “Good To Great.” Make it a study material. Let it stretch your brain. It took me three months to read it, highlighter + pen in hand, taking notes, discussing concepts with friends. Seeing Jim speak live solidified the knowledge even further for me. Grant has read it too, and we reference it often when we’re talking about business.
- I chose that photo of Grant (even though HE thinks he looks a little deranged) because that’s the most usual view of our team have of Grant on webcam. Dude is ALWAYS throwing his head back laughing.
- Can you tell why we all adore him yet? He’s the dude this chick-centric company needs!
- LDI = Leonie Dawson International = this wee, wonderful, magic-making company.
Additional Maker Notes:
Want to know what we use to create what we create?
- Blog post written on Evernote
- Shared/collaborated on over Slack
- Published on WordPress
- Photographs by Shutter Freek
- Handwritten with Kuretake Brush Pen
- Coloured with Sennelier Ink
- Edited using Photoshop from Adobe Creative Cloud
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